The Benefits Of A Therapist Specializing In Depression During Healing And Recovery

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti
Updated February 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Depression is a complex mental health disorder often accompanied by persistent sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed. To overcome these challenges, you may decide to seek professional support from a therapist. Finding a therapist who specializes in treating depression can be helpful. These professionals offer numerous ways to treat depression, with a combination of therapy and medication being the most effective option for many. 

Therapists who treat depression can provide psychotherapy, which helps clients explore their emotions, identify underlying challenges, and develop coping skills to manage their mental health. Finding the right depression therapist can make a significant difference for many people. To understand how to choose a therapist, looking at the types of therapy and considering the benefits of online therapy can be helpful. 

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Managing depression alone can be difficult and affect daily life

When to look for a therapist specializing in depression

Knowing the possible signs and symptoms of depression can be beneficial when deciding to take the first step in getting help from a therapist. Left untreated, depressive disorders may lead to other challenges, including substance use. The American Psychiatric Association's DSM-5 lists several types of depression, each with unique symptoms. If you have symptoms of the conditions listed below, consider contacting a professional for guidance.  

Major depressive disorder (MDD) 

Major depressive disorder (MDD), also called major depression, involves ongoing feelings of sadness and hopelessness alongside a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy. If you experience these symptoms for at least two weeks, you might be living with MDD. 

Persistent depressive disorder 

Persistent depressive disorder, once called dysthymia, is a chronic type of depression lasting at least two years. It includes a constantly depressed mood, low self-esteem, and a lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities. In this case, therapy can help manage and reduce symptoms.

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) can affect parents and caregivers, whether biological or adoptive. PPD can show up as a depressed mood, anxiety, or difficulty bonding with a new child. This form of depression can be disabling and may require quick attention. 

Seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs during specific seasons, usually in winter, and may involve sadness, tiredness, or avoidance of social situations. A therapist can help those affected by SAD manage their mood changes and find effective coping strategies.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder affects people with gynecological reproductive systems and involves mood swings, irritability, and tension during the week before menstruation. Therapy, along with medical treatment, can help manage this condition.

People experiencing depression symptoms may consider getting professional help if feelings of depression are ongoing and negatively affect their daily life and functioning. Immediate help might be needed in situations where substance use or thoughts of suicide are a concern.

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or text 988 to talk to a crisis provider over SMS. They are available 24/7 to offer support. 988 also offers an online chat for those with an internet connection.

Types of therapy for depression

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Depression can affect a person's daily activities, functioning, emotions, and relationships, but there are various therapy options that can offer support. These modalities may give individuals the tools to manage their symptoms and overall well-being. Below are a few options to consider. 

Cognitive Dehavioral Therapy (CBT) 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used treatment for depression. It helps people recognize and change maladaptive thoughts to change unwanted actions. By working with a therapist, individuals can learn more constructive ways to handle challenging situations and restructure their thinking. In addition, a CBT therapist may offer tools like worksheets and activities for clients to use outside of therapy. 

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is another evidence-based approach to treating depression. It focuses on personal relationships and managing related issues. By improving communication skills and fixing interpersonal conflicts, people can build a more robust support network and work through depressive symptoms alongside those they love. 

Behavioral therapies 

Behavioral therapies, including dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), work on changing how people cope with and respond to challenging situations. These methods often include mindfulness techniques, developing an awareness of feelings and reactions, and healthy stress-reduction techniques. 

Other treatment options

There are many types of therapy for depression, including but not limited to art therapy, couples therapy, and family therapy. Online therapy has also become more popular, and online therapists may utilize a variety of modalities. Telehealth services can make mental health support easier to avail for those who find the cost or distance of traditional, in-person therapy sessions to be an obstacle to seeking out care. 

While some people may benefit from therapy alone, others may benefit from a combination of therapy and medication, such as antidepressants, to manage their symptoms. A team of mental health professionals, including therapists and psychiatrists, can create a customized treatment plan that fits your needs and situation. 

Note that treatment results can differ for everyone, and finding the most effective method might take some time. With determination and support, people living with depression can learn the skills required to take charge of their mental health and everyday lives. 

How a therapist specializing in depression can help you

A therapist who specializes in treating people with depression can be a crucial resource in your mental health journey. Keep reading to learn some of the valuable qualities a therapist who specializes in depression can offer. 

Guidance and support 

Psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and social workers are trained to help you make sense of and tackle the challenges you're facing with your mental health. They work with you to create the right treatment plan, which might involve talk therapy, medication, or a combination. They can be a valuable resource for offering both guidance and support. 

By offering professional guidance, they can assist you in improving your mental health. It may be challenging to figure out how to feel better, particularly if you don't have the training and skills a therapist does. Instead of finding solutions yourself, you can rely on a professional to partner with you to reduce symptom severity.

Active listening 

Therapists offer clients a safe space to express thoughts and feelings openly. They listen without judging, allowing you to express your emotions and struggles. They can help you uncover the root causes of your depressive symptoms, encouraging self-awareness and personal growth. 

Depression may cause you to believe you're a burden to the people in your life, which could lead to your withdrawal from them. With therapy, your therapist is there to listen and offer support, which may allow you to discuss your feelings openly without a sense of guilt.

Coping skills training

Therapists may teach various methods to help you manage your symptoms and boost your mental health. By teaching you coping skills, they can help you learn how to lower your stress levels, improve your mood, and keep a more balanced view of life. These skills can ultimately allow you to become more resilient and prepared to face mental health challenges.

Social support skills training 

Therapists often know how important it can be to have a solid social support network for maintaining mental health. They can help you create a plan to strengthen your connections with friends, family, and peers and may be able to connect you to extra resources, like support groups. A solid support network can offer emotional encouragement and practical support during recovery.

What to expect during therapy for depression

Therapy for depression can involve exploring thoughts, feelings, and behaviors contributing to the condition. You may develop a trusting relationship with your therapist, who provides a safe and supportive environment to discuss your experiences openly. The therapist may also teach you techniques to manage symptoms of depression in your daily life.

Therapy for depression may vary in length, depending on individual needs and the severity of the condition. Some people might benefit from short-term counseling, while others may benefit from long-term therapy. Regular meetings with your therapist, whether weekly or bi-weekly, can help you and your therapist track your progress.  

Finding the right therapist for you might take time, and it's not uncommon to meet with a few mental health professionals before finding a suitable provider.  

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Managing depression alone can be difficult and affect daily life

Online therapy for depression 

Online therapy has become a popular treatment option for many, providing flexibility and the option to communicate with therapists remotely. Some platforms offer a directory of mental health professionals, including online therapists specializing in depression. Other platforms, like BetterHelp, connect people with qualified therapists for online treatment. By filling out a brief survey, you can be matched with a therapist based on your specific needs, preferences, and goals. To receive support, individuals can meet with their therapist using phone calls, video chats, or in-app messaging. 

In addition, online therapy has been proven effective in treating various mental health conditions, including depression. One study found that internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy can be as efficient as in-person therapy, providing several benefits for patients and professionals. In addition, online CBT can be as helpful for mild to moderate depression as medication. 

Takeaway

Depression is a complex condition, and the appropriate treatment may vary depending on your needs. A therapist who specializes in treating depression can provide valuable support as you work to meet your mental health goals. To find the right therapist, research their qualifications, experience, and areas of expertise. It is helpful to be patient and keep an open mind as you continue exploring treatments and interventions. You're not alone, and support is available.

Depression is treatable, and you're not alone

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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